| Bristol City 0 Cardiff City 0
13th May 2003
Nationwide Division Two playoffs, semi-final, 13th May 2003
As Psychic Ron would tell you, games don't come any bigger than this one.
Cardiff City came to Bristol to defend their 1-0 lead from the first round of this Division Two play off. At stake: a chance to relive old glories and grab a vital place in Division One.
I travelled up from London with the 1927 Club and here is my story:
On the road to Bristol. The 1927 Club coach left Hammersmith around 3pm and encountered almost Biblical weather, battling through thunder, lightning, rain storms and a clattering hail storm that briefly turned the M4 white.
Checkpoint Charlie. The only way Cardiff fans could get to the game was as part of a long coach convoy, escorted by a huge police presence. All the coaches had to rendezvous at Avonmouth before being escorted on a delightful tour of the industrial estates and back streets of Bristol.
Inside the ground. At the ground, there were enough riot police on hand to overthrow a few small countries. Ashton Gate is a fine stadium, with all four (covered) stands positioned close to the pitch for maximum atmosphere.
Sadly, the catering was totally inadequate, with vast, slow, moving queues deterring all but the most ravenous. Why can't football clubs get this simple act of basic supply together?
Welcoming Cardiff City. The City crowd were magnificent, belting out song after song with pure passion and commitment.
I know that partisan fans always like to boast about how they outsung the opposition, but the Bristol fans really did seem strangely quiet for large parts of the game.
Mind you, having Tony 'Baldrick' Robinson on the pitch at half time tunelessly wailing on about drinking cider would be enough to silence anyone.
Tighter than a crab's arse. It was a hard fought game, with Cardiff having to defend deep - very deep - against an organised Bristol team who had no choice but to score. Gabbidon was a giant in defence for Cardiff and Alexander's super reflex save a match-saver. Mind you, it wasn't all one way traffic, with Cardiff launching a few counter attacks.
Final whistle! City fans go doodle-ally as the full time whistle sounds with the score still 0-0 - meaning Cardiff progress to the final on an aggregate score of 1-0. Job done. Whooppee!!
Celebrations on the pitch. City players come back on the pitch to acknowledge the cheers of the fans.
Empty stadium. The last few Bristol City stragglers despondently leave their ground, their hopes and their season over.
Cardiff fans know exactly how they feel, having suffered an identical fate last season.
» Cardiff City 1 QPR 0 Play off final, 25th May 2003
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